The Owner of Leland‘s Verterra Winery talks Northern Michigan chardonnay and the 2013 harvest with Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.

Paul Hamelin consummated a lifelong love of wine and wine collecting in 2007 when he and his wife, Marty, purchased a Leelanau County cherry orchard and began planting vines. Six years, 33 planted acres, and a slew of best-in-class awards later, Verterra is producing some of Leelanau’s top bottlings. We caught up with Paul to talk the latest on Northern Michigan chardonnay.

With riesling dominating the local discourse, why focus on chardonnay?

Chardonnay is the number one wine across the country, and we thought that if we were going to create a high quality winery we needed to produce excellent chardonnay. I spent a lot of time researching superior clones of the grape that would be compatible with the rootstock and climate here in Northern Michigan. We settled on two from Dijon, France, and two from Napa Valley. We’re very proud of how they’re performing so far. Our 2012 unoaked chardonnay sold out in just seven weeks. We’re working to dial in a barrel program that complements the quality of the fruit without overdominating it.

What distinguishes Northwest Michigan chardonnay?

Our wines are distinctive because of their acidity. We get ripeness levels that can stand up to different interpretations in the winery, but a crisp, bright finish always comes through.

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